Africa's game parks losing animals

2010-07-13 20:03

Abidjan - Africa's game parks have lost well over half of their big mammals, such as the lions and buffaloes that draw millions of tourists each year, to rampant hunting and farming since 1970, a study has found.

The continent-wide study by specialists, including from the London Zoological Society and UN environment programme (Unep), late on Monday found big mammal populations inside national parks declined 59% between 1970 and 2005.

"These results illustrate that African PAs (protected areas) have generally failed to mitigate human-induced threats to African large mammal populations," the report in Biological Conservation journal said.

Elephants and rhinos were not included in the study because of special trade restrictions relating to them.

"It's perhaps not (surprising)," Unep spokesperson Nick Nuttal said on Tuesday. "Africa has undergone a large population increase since that period of time. There's incredible pressure from hunting for food."

Another pressure was conversion to agricultural land.

Nuttal said a comparative study would be needed on wildlife loss outside national parks to determine if they'd at least managed to slow the decline of mammal populations.

At a wildlife conference in 2002, governments around the world agreed to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, but no government had achieved that target, Nuttal said.

African leaders are increasingly becoming aware of the economic value of the animals in their parks - especially the "big five" mammals - lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards and buffaloes - that are favourite tourist attractions.

But tackling poachers in the vast stretches of savannah, woodland or forest that parks protect has proved tough.

  • Kelvin Cooper - 2010-07-14 10:21

    Time to talk about the human population ... good to note this is being placed on some high profile agenda's. It will serve humanity well to be realistic about just how much we can impact the planet without compromising on that which preserves life and that which gives life.

  • Just Die - 2010-07-14 10:42

    I am personally sick and tired of the human race. We need a catastophe to wipe out millions as we cannot control ourselves to not wipe out nature's wonders. Our so called 'governments' are useless and our morality is slipping away. Just look at the poaching of the endangered black and white rhino's. I am sorry but mankind is slipping into the darkness. We will not emerge the same.

  • pamela - 2010-07-14 11:36

    I completely agree. These problems stem from overpopulation. If we can't learn control the planet will enforce that control onto us, famine, floods, droughts. These things will wipe out the multitudes of children that people insist on having. Go ahead, have ten kids, earth will take them down

  • Tim - 2010-07-14 11:49

    This is disgusting, but if you have travelled in Africa you will understand that the only areas with trees and any animals are the National Parks. Another thing, why is the term hunting used when its clearly POACHING. Someone needs to pick up a dictionary.

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